The first free modern public library was opened in 1833. The Peterborough (N.H.) Town Libraries was the first institution funded by a municipality with the explicit purpose of establishing a free library open to all classes of the community.
The first public library in the U.S. is contested, but there are three generally accepted answers. The last contender for this title is the Boston Public Library. It was the first free municipal library in a large community and was founded in 1848, almost thirty years before ALA
The first bookmobile was established in 1905 at the Washington County Public Library (Md.). The original bookmobile was a wagon with horses which were driven by the library janitor. The was wagon had room for 200 books. Mary L. Titcomb was the librarian who instigated this innovation. It was originally designed for service to children.
ALA opened a library for American military personnel in Paris during 1918. This library was later established (1920) as the American Library in Paris
"During the closing years of World War I, when the United States entered the conflict, hundreds of American libraries launched the Library War Service, a massive project to send books to the doughboys fighting in the trenches - by the Armistice, nearly a million and a half books.
The first ALA round table met to encourage library patron diversity, " ALA's Work with Negroes Round Table". The round table was began to examine the state of equitable access to library materials for African-Americans. The round table continued for two years before being disbanded. Tensions flared between librarians in the north and the south causing the ALA to suspend the round table.
Thomas Fountain Blue was the first African-American to head a public library system. In 1921, he became the first African-American to speak at an ALA program.
"The Reverend Thomas F. Blue, the nation’s first African-American to head a public library, was a respected leader in the civic, religious, and educational life of the Louisville black community.
The first National Library Week occurred in 1958.
Read more about National Library Week at National Library Week History which includes lists of both the National Library Week Honorary Chairpersons and the National Library Week Themes, from 1958 to the present.
Children's Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading and held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background. Through several grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) continues to increase public awareness of the event in libraries throughout the country.
In 1998 the ALA Council voted commitment to five Key Action Areas as guiding principles for directing the Association’s energies and resources: Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy.